Having traditional Taiwanese parents means that I did not grow up privy to conversations concerning money. It does not mean that my parents did not practice personal finance, it just means that, beside ‘don’t spend money unnecessarily’ and ‘let’s haggle,’ there was not much I knew about personal finance. When I got a credit card with $500 limit under my parents’ account in high school, it gave me a little financial freedom, but I was never allowed to spend too much, and always under limit.
Then came college. I learned that my annual tuition of $7700 for UCLA would be covered mostly by financial aid, but my parents would be paying for the living expenses, including dorms. I felt guilty, because this may be the first time I ever find out how much I am spending my parents’ hard earned money. So I worked part-time in college and started keeping track of my spending. From a colored-paper on the dorm room wall where I itemized my monthly spending to the excel spreadsheet I keep now for budgeting, expense tracking, and analysis, it has been a 11-year journey that will keep on going and evolving. Over the years, it also grew from the simple item + price on food and clothes, to mortgages, car loans, investments, and more. I am by no means a professional investment banker, but my goal is to share what I’ve learned over the years with the general public to help you take the first step toward a better financial life.